Rice: US not facing 'existential' threats

Rice: US not facing 'existential' threats
© Anne Wernikoff

Susan Rice pushed back on critics of President Obama's foreign policy Friday as she unveiled the White House’s new national security strategy.

Rice, the White House's national security adviser, said in a speech at the Brookings Institution that the nation is “stronger than we have been in a very long time” despite the bitter debates raging in Washington.

“Too often, what's missing here in Washington is a sense of perspective. Yes, there is a lot going on. Still, while the dangers we face may be more numerous and varied, they are not of the existential nature we confronted during World War II or during the Cold War,” Rice said.

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Rice mounted a defense of the administration’s foreign policy, arguing officials have made progress on closing the Guantánamo Bay detention facility. "We reduced the population at Gitmo by half and we mean to keep going."

She defended the administration's pursuit of a international negotiations to roll back Iran’s nuclear program: "We must give diplomacy a chance to finish the job," she said.

And she argued that al Qaeda's core has been decimated, reducing the probability of a large-scale attack on the United States.

However, she said the terrorist threat is more diffuse now, which could raise the probability of the "types of attacks that we have seen in Boston, Ottawa, Sydney and Paris."
 
When it comes to counterterrorism, Rice said the administration plans to pursue a "comprehensive approach" that consists of military operations, law enforcement work, local partnerships, blockades of terrorist financing and attempts to counter extremist ideology.

"There will be setbacks," she said. "No one-size-fits-all solutions."
 
Rice's speech comes the same day the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria (ISIS) claimed that a U.S. hostage was killed in Syria by Jordanian airstrikes.

She said U.S. officials are "obviously very concerned" by the reports, but have not yet found any evidence to corroborate those claims.

Rice also touted America’s economic resurgence, citing the improved unemployment rate, the falling deficit and the progression of "an energy boom."

"The president has two years left. Two years is plenty of time. This national security strategy is a blueprint for what we intend to get done in the next two years," she said.

"President Obama will leave everything on the field," she said. "We are committed to seizing the future that lies beyond the crisis of the day."